12 Steps to Overcome Opposition
Pastor Kris Belfils
Living in the Rubble
“And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.”
It is worth getting rid of the rubble in our lives. Sometimes the removal of rubble is costly. We may have to give up things. God might require change. Sometimes it is painful, but all the time it is worth cleaning up.
Are you living in the rubble of broken dreams, or broken relationships? Do you look at the mess and think it is hopeless to try and rebuild? You need a different perspective on it. From God’s point of view He sees potential. He sees the finished product. Too many times we settle for the rubble and give up. We forget what was there. When God helps us rebuild He brings total healing to our foundation and starts to build up. He knows what needs to be integrated into the structure to fortify it. He knows the process we need to take to become whole again.
God is a god of completion. Just look at His creation and see His beautiful fruit, vegetation, trees, and people. A mango is complete from seed to growing into an adult ripe fruit. God will bring completion to your life too. It is easy to get frustrated when you don’t see the progress you want to see, but don’t get discouraged or give up. God has a plan and will rebuild you in His time.
Opposition and Spiritual Warfare
When ever you are doing a work for the Lord, or when God is bringing healing in your life you will experience opposition. People will question your motives of why you are doing what you are doing for the Lord. You may experience opposition from people you least expect it from.
I remember a time in my life when I was ministering as a Worship Leader at a church and truly seeking God and walking in His will as I was serving a congregation. From out of no where one of my close friends became mad at me and questioned my actions. I was shocked. I took the high road and apologized for anything that might have offended them. I found out through the “grape vine” that they didn’t receive my apology. In fact, they were spreading vicious rumors about me. At the time I didn’t understand this attack. Eventually their entire family left the church. I found out later they were not happy for a long time, and I happened to be the escape goat for them. It didn’t heal the hurt I felt at the time, but it helped me understand the bigger picture. This taught me to never place my trust or confidence in man, but only God. It also taught me that the devil will stir up strife to try and bring division and discouragement and I have to keep pressing on in the face of fear and opposition.
Opposition will come. It will come from the least expected source and it will come from expected sources as well.
Nehemiah was a contemporary of Ezra and a cupbearer to the king. He led the Jewish captives back to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. His faith in God and his love for his people is impressive – and this, in spite of hardship and opposition. Opposition from the outside and discouragement from the inside, yet the task of rebuilding was complete in only fifty-two days.
As in the story of Nehemiah and rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he experienced opposition all along the way from his enemies. From the time he was given permission from the king and scouted out the land, to the very end of completing the walls, Nehemiah was attacked. I want to look at this story and see the steps to combat opposition.
12 Steps to Overcome Opposition
1. Be wise to the words of the enemy.
Nehemiah 2:18 – 21 (HCSB)
“When Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard about this, they mocked and despised us, and said, "What is this you're doing? Are you rebelling against the king?"
We have to be wise to the words the enemy uses to try and bring discouragement and fear in our lives. In the case of Nehemiah, he stayed strong at each attack.
Nehemiah 4:1 – 3
“But when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and in a great rage, and he ridiculed the Jews. And he said before his brethren and the army of Samaria, What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore things [at will and by themselves]? Will they [try to bribe their God] with sacrifices? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish seeing they are burned? Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him, and he said, What they build – if a fox, climbs upon it, he will break down their stone wall.”
Isn’t it amazing how the very insults had to do with Nehemiah’s faith and his actions? This is how the enemy works. Satan tries to hit us with his best shot and targets the very core of who we are. In this case, Sanballat ridicules Nehemiah and calls him, and the rest of the Jews, “feeble” and questions their actions of rebuilding the walls. Sanballat also mocks the worship practices of the Jews by saying, “Will they [try to bribe their God] with sacrifices?” He knew how the Jews worshipped, and attacked with words that could have brought discouragement and fear. Yet Nehemiah didn’t flinch. The last phrase of Sandballat’s attack, “Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish seeing they are burned?” is actually prophetic as that is exactly what the Jews accomplished. Tobiah attacked their actions by stating, “What they build – if a fox, climbs upon it, he will break down their stone wall” insinuating all the work the Jews were doing was weak and will be destroyed easily.
This gives us a good look at how the devil works in our life. He will scheme and mock our faith and actions hoping we will start believing his lies and become fearful. We have to recognize his lies from the beginning. If we start believing them we will fail. You see we are in a spiritual battle everyday. You enlisted in this battle when you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and believed in God. You are soldier. You have to be militant!
2. Be a strong and courageous soldier.
2 Timothy 2:3-4 (HCSB)
“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. To please the recruiter, no one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of everyday life.”
Don’t get entangled with the concerns of everyday life. If you do, you will not see the enemy coming. We can trust God with our everyday concerns as we are delighting our self in Him and following His Word.
We have to be strong and courageous as we work for the Lord or receive His healing touch of rebuilding. God told Joshua to be strong and courageous many times. I believe this was because we as humans need that encouragement and reminder.
Joshua 1:6 – 9 (HCSB)
"Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance. Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night, so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua was just that, “strong and courageous.” He fought the inhabitants of the land and won. The Israelites did receive their promise land. He didn’t allow fear to creep in to his thinking.
Fear can paralyze us if we let it. Fear has the potential to tear us apart and possibly divide us. We have to believe in faith the God will be there for us. He promises this in His word.
Joshua 10:8 (CEV)
"Joshua," the LORD said, "don't be afraid of the Amorites. They will run away when you attack, and I will help you defeat them."
3. Know your authority in Christ.
Our job is to get in the battle position that God has commanded us and let God to the rest. This has always been my motto when ever I do ministry of any kind, be it preaching, leading worship, or even one on one with someone. I know God will do His part as I am faithful and do what God has called me to do.
God has called us. We must be strong and bold and unashamed. We walk in the authority that has been given to us through Christ.
Luke 10:19 HCSB)
“Look, I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; nothing will ever harm you.”
Knowing this, we can be assured that God is with us and we should never be afraid of the enemy.
The enemy wants us to believe we have no authority over him. Once we have this knowledge, he can’t do anything to us. He lies to us to believe he has power, but he doesn’t. Our fear can give him temporary power in that it stifles us and paralyzes us. That is why we need to not fear and to walk in the boldness God has given us.
Here are a few more Scriptures that show authority over the enemy:
Isa 54:17 (HCSB)
“No weapon formed against you will succeed, and you will refute any accusation raised against you in court. This is the heritage of the LORD's servants, and their righteousness is from Me." This is the LORD's declaration.”
Mat 16:19 (KJV)
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Mar 6:7 (HCSB)
“He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs and gave them authority over unclean spirits.”
Mar 16:15-18 (ESV)
“And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Eph 6:10-18 (HCSB)
“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God's word. With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and stay alert in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”
4. When the enemy mocks: Pray.
Nehemiah 4:4 (Amplified)
“[And Nehemiah prayed] Hear. O our God, for we are despised, Turn their taunts upon their own heads and give them for a prey in a land of their captivity. Cover not their iniquity and let not their sin be blotted out before You, for they have vexed [with alarm] the builders and provoked You.”
The first thing Nehemiah did after hearing the taunts of the enemy is he stood his ground and prayed. He didn’t allow their words to penetrate his heart. He immediately went to his Source for strength and help. When Nehemiah became aware of the growing opposition; in the face of this fear he prayed. This is what we need to learn, and this is what we need to do – when we face fear; when we become aware of opposition we need to pray.
Far too often we look and listen to the circumstance and become overwhelmed. We start to listen to the lies of the enemy and we retreat or start to doubt if God can help us. Our faith begins to die and fear begins to grow. Remember we have the power and authority to overcome our enemy. We should take note of the opposition, talk to god about it – but never stop doing what’s right.
Nehemiah never stopped, but continued to rebuild the walls.
5. Have a heart and mind to work.
Nehemiah 4:5 (Amplified)
“So we built the wall and all [of it] was joined together to half its height, for the people had a heart and mind to work.”
It is easy to get distracted by the enemy and focus on his threats and stop working on the task at hand. I believe many people have done this and still are doing this. They get discouraged and never complete what God called them to do. Remember, if the enemy isn’t attacking you, you are not a threat to him. Let’s be a threat to the kingdom of darkness every day. We should never give up doing well. We need to learn endurance and perseverance.
I remember when God showed me I didn’t have endurance in my life. He started to reveal my character of how I would always bolt when times were tough. It seemed to be my nature. But God required me to go back to a place I bolted from and to “stick it out.” Many times I wanted to leave. From the very beginning of coming back I wanted to exit. Opposition came at me hard and I had to stay where I was. I would overcome and endure one hardship and think I was done, but right away other opposition came. During this time of learning endurance one of my daughters was given a bracelet that simply had the word, “Endurance” on it. It was bright lime green. I knew God was showing me that I was exactly where I needed to be; learning endurance. So I asked my daughter if I could have the bracelet and I would wear it every time I wanted to bolt. It seemed I would wear it for days on end. But it was a reminder, as I would look down at my wrist that I needed to “keep on keeping on.”
“…so the people had a heart and mind to work.” These people had the vision in their hearts. They didn’t lose sight of what God called them to do. In fact they set a watch against the enemy day and night.
6. The enemy will come in many forms.
Nehemiah 4:7 – 8 (Amplified)
“But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabians. Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem, were going up and that the breaches were being closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem, to injure and cause confusion and failure in it.”
The enemies hear of the Jews progress and they decide to get more intense with their threats. They gather more people with like minds to join together to injure and confuse the builders. There are Sanballats, Tobiahs, Arabians, and Ammonites out there today that will try and distract and discourage you. They may even come in the form of a fellow Christian, a family member, or a close friend. Bruce Wilkinson wrote a book entitled, “The Dream Giver.” In it he refers to the “Border Bullies” who try and prevent us from going beyond what we know. They even come in the form of close relatives or friends. But we can’t allow them to. We have to remember Whom we choose to please.
7. Walking in discouragement gives the advantage to the enemy.
Nehemiah 4:9 - 13
But because of them we made our prayer to our God and set a watch against them day and night. And the leaders of Jerusalem said, The strength of the burden bearers is weakening, and there is much rubbish; we are not able to work on the wall. And our enemies said, They will not know or see till we come into their midst and kill them and stop the work. And when the Jews who lived near them came, they said to us ten times, You must return [to guard our little villages]; from all places where they dwell they will be upon us. So I set [armed men] behind the wall in places where it was least protected; I even thus used the people as families with their swords, spears, and bows.”
The enemy was very angry. They came back again and again, now this time with more force. The people became frightened and discouraged. They started to listen to their enemies’ threats. If we become discouraged the devil knows it and will try and capitalize on his progress. Our discouragement will become the enemy’s opportunity to bring more opposition and fear to stop us from doing what right.
We have to keep our hearts and minds focused. We can’t afford a pity party. As soon as we start feeling sorry for ourselves, and bring others along to join our party, the devil sees our weakness and takes advantage of it. The more we “pet” the pity monster, the bigger it becomes, until we can’t see to do anything anymore. Self-pity is a form of pride. We have to stay focused and not fall into this sin.
Nehemiah didn’t flinch and assigned armed guards, even families, to guard the wall. Then the fearless leader gave a “pep talk” to the people.
8. Learn to encourage yourself in the Lord.
Nehemiah 4:14 (Amplified)
“I looked [them over] and rose up and said to the nobles and officials and the other people, Do not be afraid of the enemy; [earnestly] remember the Lord and imprint Him [on your minds], great and terrible, and [take from Him courage to] fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”
As a leader, we have to give “pep talks” to encourage others. Most importantly we have to remember to give these talks to ourselves too. There are enough things in this world that pull on us to get discouraged.
Wherever you go there you are, so it is imperative for you to learn to speak encouraging words to your self. This is faith in action. We can not rely on our emotions to direct us. In these verses the people were expressing their emotions to Nehemiah and not their faith.
9. Allow faith to arise in your spirit!
Proverbs 3:5 – 6 (NKJV)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your paths.”
Bringing the word “understanding” down to the original Hebrew we find it means: “feel, or perceive” among other like meanings. We can not go by our emotions or what we feel or perceive when it is contrary to the Word of God. We have to rely on God and His wisdom and understanding. We can lead ourselves astray with our own thinking if we have not diligently spent time with God, digesting His word, and acknowledging Him for direction.
Allow faith to arise in you and stand on God’s word. Faith says: “We can take this land.” Faith says: “God is for us so who can be against us?” Faith says: “No matter what my surroundings are I will trust in the Lord to bring me through.” Faith says: “If I can’t see God’s hand in action in my life I will trust His heart!”
Nehemiah expressed that they should not be afraid as God is bigger! He reminded them to remember the Lord and how awesome His is and be strengthened in the Lord. This brought encouragement and the people kept on working. We should never stop working and doing what God assigns us to do. Don’t be a quitter even in the face of the enemy, endure and never quit.
10. Live everyday to work and fight!
Nehemiah 4:15 - 17 (Amplified)
“And when our enemies heard that their plot was known to us and that God had frustrated their purpose, we all returned to the wall, everyone to his work. And from that time forth, half of my servants worked at the task, and the other half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail (breastplate); and the leaders stood behind all the house of Judah. Those who built the wall and those who bore burdens loaded themselves so that everyone worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other hand.”
We can learn so much from this story about spiritual warfare in our everyday life. I think often times people don’t realize the enemy never lets up. Everyday he is trying to bring us down and to defeat us. Everyday the enemy wants us to fail and to give up.
We have to be militant and look at everyday as an opportunity to do what God has called us to do and to be aware of the enemy’s tactics. We have to build and fight!
Hide the Word of God in your heart so you can use it as a weapon when the enemy tries to attack. Continue on with your life and your calling no matter what the devil throws at you. Never give up!
11. Remember God will fight for you!
Nehemiah 4:18 – 20
“And every builder had his sword girded by his side, and so worked. And he who sounded the trumpet was at my side. And I said to the nobles and officials and the rest of the people, the work is great and scattered, and we are separated on the wall, one far from another. In whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. God will fight for us!”
God is our Mighty Warrior! He cannot fail. He never loses a battle, never flinches under pressure, and never turns in defeat and gives up. If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)? We are not fighting this battle alone. God is on our side. He will not leave us helpless or hopeless.
Psalm 118:6 – 7
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side and takes my part, He is among those who help me; therefore shall I see my desire established upon those who hate me.”
Hebrews 13:5b – 6
“…for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]. So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?”
“What can man do to me?” It doesn’t matter what people think. If they don’t approve of what you are doing for God, let their opinion wash right off of you. Don’t allow another person’s opinion of you to prevent you from fulfilling your ultimate purpose and destiny in your life.
We will never have the approval of everyone. There will always be someone who doesn’t like you or what you do. No matter how much you try to please others, it will never completely happen. If you live your life to try and please others and win their approval, you are living in turmoil and becoming their puppet. You will never be happy or satisfied in life. It is not about what others think, but what God thinks. Live for pleasing God and not man.
12. Surround yourself with intercessors.
Nehemiah 4:21 – 23
“So we labored at the work while half of them held the spears from dawn until the stars came out. At that time also I said to the people, Let everyone with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that at night they may be a guard to us and a laborer during the day. So none of us – I, my kinsmen, my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me – took off our clothes; each kept his weapon [in his hand for days].”
Surround your self with people who will come and pray and support you. It is vitally important to have faithful people who will be at your side when you need it -- people who have the same vision and goal as you -- who will battle the enemy along side you. Remember we are stronger working together then we ever can be working as a loner.
Regardless of all the Sanballats and Tobiah’s in the world, the battle belongs to the Lord. He cannot fail! It is not in His character. God will fight for you! Remember one of the enemy’s tactics is to tell you many lies and mock you for your work. He will tell you how bad you are and how terrible the work you are doing is. Remind yourself you ARE on the right side and cannot be defeated. Even though you may get opposition, opposition doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. Use opposition for your benefit. Allow it to fuel your determination to finish what you’ve started. When opposition comes turn it around and allow faith to arise in you.
Don’t oppose yourself. Don’t beat yourself up by believing the lies of the enemy. Don’t think you are a bad person just because there is opposition.
As you are cleaning the rubble from your past and rebuilding your present, trust that God has great plans for your future. He is rebuilding you and making you more like His Son. We have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Therefore we can, by His Spirit, think like Him, talk like Him, and act like Him. We are influenced by His Spirit.
Be strong and courageous in battle. Remember your Great Warrior is fighting the battle for you. Most importantly; Never Give Up!!!